Your Internet history: 10 snapshots

In today’s Post, I write about Michael Nelson, a computer scientist at Old Dominion University who is a sort of Internet time traveler .

Nelson represents a small community of scholars and techies who are trying to save the Internet — that is, create a permanent archive of individual Web pages past, present and future.

Conventional wisdom suggests everything on the Internet is permanent. In fact, the average Web page lasts about 100 days. Most of what was online 15 years ago is long gone, and sites that have endured have been erased and rewritten so many times that they contain no real trace of their own past.

Brewster Kahle’s Internet Archive stepped into the void in 1996, saving every Web page its crawlers could find. While far from a complete record, the archive holds an almost incalculably large collection of clunky, funky Web pages from the modem era.

Here is a sampling.

1. Google, 1999.

2. The New York Times, Sept. 11, 2001.

3. Huffington Post, 2005.

4. YouTube, 2006.

5. LOLCATS, 2007.

6. Microsoft, 1996.

7. Stanford University, 1997.

8. Wikipedia, 2002.

9. Amazon, 2000.

10. Apple, 1997.

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